The following information is provided to assist court users in identifying the type of case that they are involved in. The case types are presented as they are used in the Contra Costa Superior Court for purposes of case processing, scheduling, and trial assignment.

If you have questions or concerns regarding your case type, please call the court's main telephone line (925) 608-1000 for assistance.


An appeal is a request to a higher court to review a judgment or verdict in a lower court action. For cases tried in a Municipal-level jurisdiction (small claims, limited civil, unlawful detainer, traffic, misdemeanors), the court of appeal is the Superior Court. For cases tried in a Superior-level jurisdiction (general civil, family law, probate, juvenile, felony), the court of appeal is the Third District Court of Appeals - external link.

Civil and other Non-Criminal

A civil case is an action brought to enforce, redress, or protect private rights. Civil actions include:

  • General Civil (seeking damages over $25,000)
  • Limited Civil (seeking damages under $25,000)
  • Family Law (includes dissolution or annulment of marriage or domestic partnership, legal separation, child custody, spousal support, and domestic violence restraining orders)
  • Probate (matters regarding estates, guardianships, conservatorships, and trust)
  • Unlawful Detainer (landlord/tenant disputes)
  • Small Claims (seeking damages under $10,000)

General and Limited Civil cases are heard and processed at the Wakefield Taylor Courthouse Family Law and Probate cases are heard and processed at the Spinetta Family Law Center. Unlawful Detainer and Small Claims cases are heard and processed at the A.F. Bray Courthouse.


A criminal case is an action brought by the government against a person who has broken penal law. Criminal cases are separated into three main categories, felony, misdemeanors, and infractions. All criminal cases are processed and heard at the Wakefield Taylor Courthouse, or at the A. F. Bray Courthouse.


Juvenile cases are those involving minors under the age of 18 years. These are separated into two main categories: Juvenile Delinquency for minors who have broken penal law and Juvenile Dependency for minors who have been removed from the home and/or care of their parents or guardians.

  • Juvenile Delinquency cases are heard and processed at the George D. Carroll Courthouse.
  • Juvenile Dependency cases are heard and processed at the Spinetta Family Law Center.


Traffic cases are those in which citations have been issued for a violation of traffic laws. Traffic cases are processed at the Walnut Creek Superior Court location and heard in Pittsburg, Richmond and Walnut Creek.